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Ah, Unawatuna, if only I'd had longer to stay. This small slice of paradise is down on the south coast not far from Galle, and boasts small quiet hotels and delicious food all around a golden crescent of sand. The village suffered terribly during the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, but has bounced back and been carefully rebuilt, like you'd never have known it had happened.

I stayed for two nights in the Thaprobane Hotel, set a little back from the beach in a beautiful jungle environment. There are no international or resort hotels in the immediate vicinity, most accommodation is fairly basic but that's part of the appeal. As I'd now come to expect from Sri Lanka, all the food was brilliantly tasty.

Plenty of rooms in paradise

Rooms available right on the beach. Wish you were here?

With coconut palm trees it was every bit the archetypal tropical beach.

Coconut palms

The local stupa

On a hill at the west side of the beach is the local Buddhist stupa.

Unawatuna beach itself, a ramshackle assortment of lodgings and cafes.

Unawatuna beach


Colourful boats against the beautiful blue waters of the Indian Ocean.

Waves crash on distant rocks lined by palm trees.

Waves crashing on distant rocks

Palm trees swaying in the breeze

Palm trees swaying in the breeze, it doesn't get much more relaxing than this.

The only other place I had been to which fits the bill of tropical island paradise was Ilha Grande in Brazil, eight years earlier. It was about time I came back to a place like this!

Unawatuna beach

Fun Island Tours!

Fun Island Tours looking for customers in Unawatuna bay.

I picked up a couple of dresses from a local tailor, tempted in by the colourful display outside. "I'm sorry sir, we don't have anything in your size" they said. Just as well they weren't for me!

Local dressmaking shop

Thaproban Hotel

The Thaprobane Hotel was my tropical hideaway for the three days I had in Unawatuna, this was the view just outside my room.

Floating flowers detail at the Thaproban Hotel.

Flowers floating

Rocks at sunset

As the sun started setting I climbed up on the rocks in the west to watch it go down.

And very glad I was too, it was a real treat of red and gold.

Red sunset into the Indian Ocean

Dusk from the stupa

From the local stupa I watched as the sky went from red to purple to black.

Back at the hotel it was great to be able to have a peaceful swim before dinner.

Pool at the Thaproban Hotel

Night time at Unawatuna beach

Night time at Unawatuna beach, no loud music or lairy discos, just the peace of the waves lapping and a quiet restaurant with tables on the sand. Perfect.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2013